Gina Lee is inspired by her family
Not knowing where her career path could take her, Gina Lee was inspired by her father's career in gerontology, and she found she wanted to help people in a similar way. When it came time to picking a college, Gina looked for a school where she could prepare for a future career similar to her father's.
“My father is very family-oriented with a successful career,” she said. “He is even close with my grandparents and that inspires me.”
She and her father found Iowa State University, where Gina was offered a scholarship along with a move back to the United States. While born in Texas, her family moved back to South Korea when she was four. In seventh grade, Gina attended school in California for one year, where she learned English, before returning to South Korea.
Having already lived in the United States, Gina wasn’t concerned with adapting to the different culture. However, she had never been to Iowa and didn’t have any connections here, and that aspect scared her. Gina made friends with other international students in her English 150 class and advises other students studying abroad to do the same.
"Make other international friends not from your country," she said. "I think it’s important to focus on the purpose of why you came here, and they become a social support system."
Since starting her program, Gina often talks to her father, comparing what she learns in the States with what he knows in South Korea. Her father also explains concepts so Gina can better understand them.
Gina feels she is not on the same level yet, but hopes with his guidance and through her future graduate classes she can be a successful professor like him.
“I’m not on his level yet,” she said. “But I ask him questions about things I’m learning, and he explains them in a way I understand.”